Friday, February 16, 2018

What is Bumblebee Jasper?

Bumblebee Jasper is one of my very favorite minerals.  Personally I prefer the rough over the finished jewelry or cabochons. But what exactly is bumblebee jasper?

Firstly, the beautiful material comes from Mount Papandayan in Indonesia, a 150 mile drive southeast from Jakarta. It is rare stuff on the world market.

Now for the surprise.  Bumblebee jasper is not actually a jasper at all.  That is just how it was marketed when it hit the market a few years.  It actually contains no quartz at all. Bumblebee jasper is actually an agate.  A beautiful combination of volcanic matter, anhydrite, hematite, orpiment, sulfur, angelite, arsenic. The material is soft, with a Mohs hardness of 5 or below. The porous rock is easily cut and polished.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Cosmopolitan Hotel in famous Tombstone, Arizona

Tucked far South in the high desert of Arizona is the mist famous town of the American old west. Tombstone. In the mid to late 1800s thus Wild West town had it all. The riches of mining, 106 saloons, raucous hotels and brothels, some of the best characters in old west history such as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday who took part in the most famous gunfight in American history. The shootout at the OK Corral.

Right in the middle of it all sat the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  Started by Carl Bilicke in 1879 as a big tent, the Cosmopolitan Hotel soon grew into a major establishment. Instead of the typical awful cot, Bilicke offered real beds so his popularity skyrocketed quickly.  In only six months time the tent operation was replaced with a two story hotel offering fifty beds!

The luxurious Cosmopolitan Hotel had black walnut and rosewood furnishings, a ladies sitting room and the very first piano in all of Tombstone to entertain the guests. It was quite a place in the craziness of Tombstone where it was said a morning was not complete without a shooting.

There was a restaurant, a bar and a general store inside no outside the verandah was lined with orange trees. Many described the Cosmopolitan Hotel as the finest building in all of Tombstone.

Unfortunately the Cosmopolitan Hotel was burned to the ground in the huge furs of 1882 which destroyed a large swath of Tombstone.  It appeared Carl Bilicke would rebuild after the fire but he soon decided against the idea and moved to Modesto, California.

The site of the Cosmopolitan Hotel lies on the main road in Tombstone, Arizona a must wonderful stop on your traveling adventures!  There is so much to see and do there I promise you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Sky Burial in Tibet

Very few westerners have even heard of a sky burial.  Only a handful have ever scene a sky burial site.  The practice of the sky burial is an ancient Buddhist ritual practiced in the remote areas of the Himalaya Mountains in Tibet.

What exactly is a Sky Burial?

It is a burial ritual. The person dies and the body is taken to the ritual site.  There they are laid upon a rock slab and a rope is tied around the neck.  The rope is pulled so that the body is tight.  Once stretched, the back is then slashed with a sharp knife.

The scent of blood and death is picked up upon by the local vultures who descend on the body.  After time what remains of the bones is then crushed into a pulp which is left for the vultures to come back and claim.  That is the practice of the Sky Burial that has been practiced for hundreds of years.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Did humans populate South America ealrier than Clovis Model?

Did early humans populate South America thousands of years earlier than previously thought?  New archaeological work is starting to show that might be the case.  Hidden in the rock shelters where prehistoric humans once lived, the paintings number in the thousands. Some are thought to be more than 9,000 years old and perhaps even far more ancient. Painted in red ocher, they rank among the most revealing testaments anywhere in the Americas to what life was like millenniums before the European conquest began a mere five centuries ago.

But it is what excavators found when they started digging in the shadows of the rock art that is contributing to a pivotal re-evaluation of human history in the hemisphere.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hiram Bingham and the Scientific Discovery of Machu Picchu

When Hiram Bingham III organized the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911, he had four objectives: to scale Mount Coropuna, to conduct a geolographic survey along the 73rd meridian, to explore Lake Parinococha, and to discover Vilcabamba "the lost city of the Inca".

These ambitious goals could be contemplated because of financing from his family and Yale classmates, assistance from US companies and political support from the American and Peru governments.  At the behest of Peru's president, Hiram Bingham and his staff were provided with a military escort and with letters of introduction that ensured cooperation in Cusco and in the small villages of the Urabamba River.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stunning Iron Age Jewelry discovered on Zealand

The Danish Island of Zealand was the site of a discovery of 20 wonderful pieces of Iron Age jewelry recently.  The finds date to the Viking period and are made of bronze with some covered in gold foil.

18 of the pieces are of Scandinavian in origin.  The site is named Vesterang and was a farmstead, thus it was a complete surprise to have found such beautiful artifacts at the site.

Archaeologist Ole Kastholm of the Roskilde Museum stated, "My explanation for the richness of finds is that the farmstead was owned by one of the Viking king's retainers.  Furthermore, the site is close to the town of Lejre, which was the capital of Zealand between A.D. 500 and 1000.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Endicott Pear Tree alive and well from Pilgrim times

The old Pilgrim Tree lives on.  Approaching a ridiculous age of 400, the Endicott Pear Tree continues to thrive near Plymouth Rock.  The nations oldest fruit tree.

The story goes that the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Endicott, wanted a welcoming sight for new world settlers as they arrived to the wilds of America. 

In 1632 he planted what would become known as the Endicott Pear Tree.  He is said to have declared at the time: "I hope the tree will love the soil of the old world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive."  Few would have ever guessed the same tree would still be producing fruit nearly 400 years later.

Yet it is. The Endicott Pear Tree has been cared for since the mid 1700s as locals noted the importance of the pear tree. 

Endicott Pear Tree ~1920